Clare and Tim Nye have been hard at work, establishing Marmadukes in many Sheffielders' routines since opening the place in 2012. Located between the Crucible theatre and the shops of Fargate, Marmadukes serves as both a brief coffee stop and a site for an extended breakfast or lunch.
The former they take incredibly seriously. Their team of baristas serve a specially created blend from Workshop Coffee Co., a London-based roasters that's regarded as one of the country's finest. For those more adventurous with caffeine, they also offer a monthly showcase of coffees from a range of microroasters.
The food menu displays a similar level of care and ambition, that goes well beyond what you'd expect from a coffee shop. In-house chefs and bakers prepare and serve breakfast and brunch – from morning staples such as granola and eggs benedict, to unexpected treats like the well-loved scotch pancakes and the impressive "Duke's breakfast". More substantial meals are available in the afternoon in the form of burgers, a club sandwich, unusual salads, sandwiches, and the sort-of-famous homity pie.
If you sit upstairs you might catch a glimpse into the Marmadukes bakery, in which an array of impressive sweet treats, like the dreamy red velvet cake – served in slab-sized portions – are created. This recently refurbished upper space is split-level, offering a great view of the Roman Catholic cathedral on the opposite side of the cobbled lane and surprisingly few views of any standard city-centre bleakness, tucked away as it is from the busy high street. The interior is a haven of pale wood, industrial lighting, plants and colourful tiling, where rustic-style furniture sits alongside modern prints and cushions without, crucially, looking like a jumble sale.
When faced with a choice between a lovingly run independent coffee shop and the multiple city-centre chains with which it is surrounded, there's really no competition. Of course, Marmadukes have no trouble convincing people of this, meaning the cosy space can often become incredibly busy. Whether it's calm or crowded, and whether you choose to treat yourself to something hot to take away or you head up the winding staircase to find a corner to fit in to, you're bound to have a more memorable experience in this hidden space.
- Words by
- Lucy Holt